For Doug and Ruth McKnight, Global Oncology at Fred Hutch offers the couple an opportunity to invest in two of their shared passions.
“We love Africa and its people, and we have devoted a great deal of our lives to improving the lives of children,” Ruth said.
Doug and Ruth set aside successful careers in corporate law in 1998 to work with troubled youth and their families. “We just have a soft spot for children,” Doug said. So the McKnights were particularly moved by the needs of the children they met on one of their visits to West Africa. “We were ready to write a check and adopt an entire school,” Ruth said.
But the couple decided to wait to make a gift until they found the best organization to steward their contributions. “The Hutch meets that in spades,” Ruth said.
The McKnights’ gift provides salary support to the Ugandan faculty at the UCI-Fred Hutch Cancer Centre and helps fund the Burkitt Lymphoma Project, which is already significantly improving outcomes for children with this cancer.
“Seeing these kids so ill …” said Ruth, her voice trailing off as she thought about the children with Burkitt lymphoma who are treated at UCI. “We believe that the future of Africa is in the hands of its young people. And they need education, and they can’t be educated unless they’re healthy,” she added.
Ruth and Doug envision the impact of their support spreading far beyond the borders of Uganda, however, as Hutch and UCI researchers unlock the secrets of the infections that cause up to one-quarter of cancers around the world, including Burkitt lymphoma and cervical cancer.
“If they can crack that nut, it’s going to be really dramatic,” Doug said. “It’s not going to impact just Uganda, it’s going to impact the whole United States and everyplace else.”